One of the negatives from Saturday’s win was another late-game drive against the Georgia defense. Twice this season and going back to some disasters last year, "finishing the drill" hasn’t been a hallmark of the Bulldog defense. Coach Richt discussed that point on Tuesday and said,
"It might be just an attitude thing," coach Mark Richt said Tuesday. "I’m going to challenge the defense this week on that very point and really the rest of the season that we’ve got to finish."
It’s unfortunate that this element of the defense gets the most attention. They played very well on Saturday and are second only to LSU in SEC total defense. Not bad for a unit replacing all but a couple of starters. Still, the late drives are a glaring and not isolated problem.
It’s fine to challenge the defense, but let’s not gloss over that the offense could do much more to put games away. The Bulldogs had that chance at Alabama. Up 7 with 6:24 to go, the Bulldog offense moved the ball just 15 yards in 4 plays before punting to set up Alabama’s game-tying drive.
It’s not the only time that the offense has wasted a chance to close the door. Most glaring is the Vanderbilt game in 2006. Trailing by a point, Vanderbilt muffed a punt and gave Georgia the ball on the Commodore 33 with 7 minutes remaining. Georgia moved the ball 13 yards in 5 plays over two minutes and then missed a short field goal. Vandy got the ball back still down just one point and drove for the winning field goal.
We can go all the way back to Richt’s first season in 2001. Munson’s favorite call, the "Hobnail Boot" play, only happened because Georgia couldn’t seal the win on offense. Late in the game, Jermaine Phillips intercepted a Tennessee pass near midfield. All the Dawgs had to do was get a single first down to end the game as Tennessee ran out of timeouts with little more than a minute left. Of course Georgia didn’t convert, Tennessee scored on a screen pass, and the offense was forced to be aggressive needing a touchdown with less than a minute remaining.
I don’t have a problem with Richt and the defense doing a little introspection because the need for them to make plays, stops, and turnovers is there. Let’s just evaluate the entire team’s approach and attitude to closing out games. It all could use some work.